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People Want and Need To Walk. Let’s Make It Safe.

The last several months have been very busy as the Council navigates complex issues surrounding pedestrian safety in our neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, we have had an increase of pedestrian crashes. For example, on Georgia Avenue, there have been three pedestrians deaths and a major accident where a driver hit and injured four high school students who were waiting for their school bus to arrive. I recently wrote about these issues and what we can do to address our state highway challenges.

To bring the State Highway Administration (SHA) and the County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) together to implement solutions, the Council recently wrote Governor Larry Hogan.

SHA administrator Greg Slater responded quickly and met with us. Together, we were able to outline several steps that we could take to address pedestrian collisions, including reducing speed limits, reducing the width of travel lanes to 10 feet and installing flashing beacons in dimly lit intersections. SHA also plans to improve the crosswalks at several intersections along Georgia Avenue, including the intersection with Heathfield Road and the intersection with May Street, which are both in Aspen Hill.

Government is taking overdue action in part because our residents are stepping up their advocacy. For example, a new coalition of civic associations, businesses and individuals called No More Dead Pedestrians has formed to advocate for continued implementation of Vision Zero principles, targeting state highways in Wheaton, Glenmont and Aspen Hill. Bethesda Bike Now is advocating for safe bike/ped infrastructure in Bethesda. The Coalition to Fix 198 is calling on SHA to fix much needed improvements in the Burtonsville area. The Dale Drive Safety Coalition is advocating for safe measures along a frequently used cut through road. And the Friends of Forest Glen and Montgomery Hills are advocating for a Georgia Ave makeover with an emphasis on bike, pedestrian safety and smart growth in the area. Some of the leaders from these groups are also involved with the County’s Pedestrian, Bicycle, Traffic Safety Advisory Committee.

With your help and with coordination with state and local governments, we will work together towards making walking safer for everyone.

#NoMoreDeadPeds

#FixGeorgiaAve

#VisionZero

#Fix198

#DaleDriveSafety

#FriendsofFGMH

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Gang activity is a growing concern

Recently, I responded to a constituent who wrote to me about the rise in gang activity. Following is my response.

Public safety is a top priority of local government. The increase in gang-related activity in the district is of great concern.

The County has a multi-departmental approach to gangs, which includes prevention, intervention, and suppression. Last week, the Public Safety Committee held a worksession focused on law enforcement’s role, which is primarily suppression. You can read additional information about the Committee worksession and suppression strategies in the committee packet.

In addition to Police, HHS, MCPS, and Recreation, among others, work more on the prevention and intervention side of the issue. These efforts include more positive programming that give kids healthier and safe alternatives to gang involvement, as well as programs, like the Street Outreach Network, that help individuals leave gangs.

I’m also including the packet for the last Joint Education/HHS/Public Safety Committee update held last summer, that touches on all these initiatives.

Finally, here’s a recent interview with Captain Paul Liquorie who is leading the centralized street gang unit. He discusses the role of law enforcement, collaboration with different county departments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other federal agencies to successfully prosecute criminal offenders.